Inbox and Environment News: Issue 283

October 2 - 8, 2016: Issue 283

Partial Closure Of Fairfax Lookouts Due To Cliff Cracks At North Head

Media release: 30 September 2016
Results from a geotechnical investigation of the cliffs at North Head have forced the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to partially close some sections of the lookouts on the Fairfax walking track for visitor safety.

NPWS Regional Manager Peter Hay said the preliminary findings of the investigation at this popular section of Sydney Harbour National Park confirmed a degree of cliff undercutting.

"When a cliff is undercut its stability is compromised and there is an increased likelihood of rock falls," said Mr Hay.

"As safety is a priority for NPWS, we have acted on the engineer's advice and closed public access to some sections of the Fairfax lookouts, effective immediately.

"In August this year without warning a large section of the cliff at North Head collapsed.

"NPWS took immediate action to temporarily close the two most western Fairfax lookouts and engaged a geotechnical engineer to further investigate the integrity of the surrounding cliffs.

"NPWS is not closing the Fairfax walk, just some parts of the lookouts will be closed until these areas are deemed safe.

"We urge all visitors to this area to thoroughly abide by any warning signs and remain behind any temporary barriers erected at North Head.

"The temporary fencing will remain in place whilst NPWS works with engineers to determine the best ways to permanently make all North Head lookouts safer for visitors," said Mr Hay.


ITEM 8.3 – ‘Council’ Meeting September 27, 2016
To provide an update on the expansion of the Narrabeen Lagoon State Park and changes to the Terms of Reference of the Advisory Committee.

At the Council Meeting of 2 June 2016 it was resolved that staff undertake a number of actions to expand the Narrabeen Lagoon State Park and amend the Terms of Reference for the Narrabeen Lagoon State Park Advisory Committee. As part of Stage 1, Council staff in cooperation with Department of Industries – Lands (Lands), have identified adjacent foreshore Crown Land parcels for immediate inclusion. This process is underway. Council is also investigating the inclusion of additional parcels in the Narrabeen Lagoon catchment that are under a range of different owners.

Amendments are proposed to the Terms of Reference for the Narrabeen Lagoon State Park Advisory Committee in order to enable stronger community involvement in the management of the State Park.

Correspondence has been sent to the Minister administering the Crown Lands Act 1989, The Hon. Niall Blair, and to the Member for Pittwater, the Hon. Rob Stokes, seeking support to expedite both the State Park expansion and amendments to the Terms of Reference. In addition, Council has approached all major State land owners in the catchment to progress Stage 2 of the expansion. 


ITEM 8.4 – ‘Council’ Meeting September 27, 2016

To seek Council resolution to apply to the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH) to register Ingleside Chase Reserve as a biobank site, and to seek endorsement to develop policy to pursue biobanking as a management option in appropriate bushland reserves throughout the Local Government Area (LGA). 

Ingleside Chase Reserve is a 70-hectare bushland reserve owned and managed by Council and is located on the Warriewood Escarpment between the suburbs of Warriewood, Ingleside and Elanora Heights. It contains a number of vegetation communities and a suite of listed threatened species. The reserve is currently managed via bushland restoration and hazard reduction contracts. Council has engaged ecological consultants to conduct surveys, assessment and reporting required to establish the reserve as a biobank site under the OEH’s Biodiversity Banking and Offsets Scheme. A biobank site is an area of land over which the landowner has agreed to place a biobanking agreement to manage land for conservation. 

A Biobanking Assessment Report has been prepared to calculate the number of biodiversity credits for Ingleside Chase Reserve based on the vegetation type and fauna species present. The credits can be purchased by developers looking to offset their environmental impact. The proceeds then go into the Biobanking Trust Fund which provides for the environmental management of the reserve in perpetuity. 

Biodiversity offset credits are likely to be sought by the State Government as part of the upcoming Ingleside Precinct development and Mona Vale Road upgrades. The offsets required by these projects can remain in the Northern Beaches LGA by the potential uptake of biodiversity credits made available through biobanking Ingleside Chase Reserve.

Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2016

This year, the Aussie Backyard Bird Count will be back, bigger and better than ever. With more than a million birds counted last year, how many will we see in 2016? It’s all happening during Bird Week, 17–23 October.Let’s make every bird count!  

Discover the Aussie Backyard Bird Count app!
A 'how to' guide for using the Aussie Backyard Bird Count app.
The app is currently available on:

Have Your Say On The Springvale Mine Water Treatment Project

26.09.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
A proposal by Springvale Coal Pty Limited for a water treatment project will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the proposal, which seeks to:

• construct a pipeline to transfer mine water to Mount Piper Power Station
• treat this water at a new desalination plant at the power station
• use treated water in the power station’s cooling water system
• discharge any excess treated water through the Springvale Coal Services site
• place remaining by-products from the treatment process at the Springvale Coal Services site.
The Planning Assessment Commission granted Springvale coal mine a 13-year extension of its operations last September.
As part of its approval, the Commission required the mine to reduce the salinity of its discharges into the water catchment over the long term.

This proposal would allow the mine to achieve these water quality improvements while also supplying the power station with most of the water it needs to operate.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views.

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive,” the spokesperson said.

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.

“It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say.”

To make a submission or view the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), visit  

Submissions can be made from Tuesday 27 September until Tuesday 8 November 2016.

Written submissions can also be made to:

Department of Planning and Environment
Attn: Director – Resource Assessments
GPO Box 39
Sydney NSW 2001

The application and EIS are also available to view in person at:
• Department of Planning and Environment: Information Centre, Level 22, 320 Pitt Street, Sydney
• Lithgow City Council: 180 Mort Street, Lithgow
• Nature Conservation Council: Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney.

Invincible Coal Mine - Southern Extension Modification

Exhibition Start 27/09/2016
Exhibition End 08/11/2016

"Castlereagh Coal are seeking approval for the extension of mining to occur over a period of up to 8 years to provide for flexibility in the supply of nut coal through: 
• providing an option for Manildra to source all required nut coal directly from Invincible 
• continuing to source nut coal from a range of other existing sources supplemented by supply from Invincible where necessary or cost effective to do so 
• utilising a blended product using coal from the other seams within the Southern Extension Area where this can be used at the Shoalhaven Starches Plant. 

The mining of coal in the target Lithgow Seam will necessarily involve the extraction of coal from the Lidsdale and Irondale Seams which are located above the Lithgow Seam. In total, there is an estimated 2.7 Million tonnes (Mt) of run-of-mine (ROM) coal in all seams down to, and including, the Lithgow Seam. 

Investigations are currently being undertaken to assess whether coal from the Lidsdale or Irondale Seams can be used at the Shoalhaven Starches Plant when washed and blended with coal from the Lithgow Seam. Surplus coal from the Lidsdale and Irondale Seams which is unable to be used in the Shoalhaven Starches Plant will be sold to Mt Piper Power Station for energy production consistent with the previous mining operations at Invincible."

Message from the Director of National Parks: Release of Review reports and preparation of reserve management plans

Australia is a leader in marine management, with one of the largest marine protected areas in the world.

State Governments and the Commonwealth are committed to establishing a National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas. By doing this we are protecting amazing marine biodiversity and a full range of ecosystems and habitats that will provide us with multiple community and environmental benefits for years to come.

As the Director of National Parks I have commenced the statutory process to develop draft management plans for 44 of these important reserves managed by Parks Australia on behalf of the Commonwealth Government and her peoples. 

Together with Parks Australia staff I will be developing draft management plans for the marine reserves in the North, North-west, South-west and Temperate-east networks and the Coral Sea reserve. These reserves are located in Commonwealth waters, typically beyond the 3 nautical mile coastal waters of the States and the Northern Territory. They are adjacent to waters managed by State and Territory governments and a number are adjacent to marine parks and reserves managed by State agencies. 

I plan to use recommendations contained in the recently released independent Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review reports from the Expert Scientific Panel and Bioregional Advisory Panel and comments sent during this first phase of the statutory process to prepare the draft management plans. The reports are the product of extensive consultation and provide an important reference point as we move towards finalisation of Australia’s national network of Commonwealth marine reserves. 

The public notice that outlines this process is here.

Management plans provide for the protection and conservation of the marine reserves by setting out the arrangements for management of activities within reserves for a period of 10 years. They state how natural features, heritage and other values are to be protected and conserved and set out the rules about what activities can be done in reserves and where. The plans also provide certainty to communities by recognising where actions may be needed to support local and regional economies and industries and provide opportunities for people to experience and enjoy these areas within a well managed and balanced system. Management plans also recognise the long term connection of Indigenous people to these seascapes and their cultural obligations to look after these special areas. 

To make these places as successful as possible we need your input and feedback on the recommendations in the review in this first phase of consultation. 

Once we have reviewed all of the comments in this first phase we will finalise the draft management plans. These draft plans will be put out for public comment too so we can double check them with you before we present them to the Minister for his consideration and approval.

I strongly encourage you to read the reports and provide me with your feedback on the independent review’s recommendations. 
The easiest way to make a submission is to can send feedback until 11 October 2016. 

During the planning and consultation processes, activities can continue to be conducted in the same way they have since the reserve networks were declared, until the new management plans come into effect. The management plan for the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network is already in place and it won’t be part of this process. 

I am very much looking forward to hearing from you about what you think should be included in the draft management plans. I am also looking forward to finalising the plans and working with you on the important job of managing Australia’s marine parks – an amazing and inspirational initiative that will make us proud for generations to come.

Sally Barnes
Director of National Parks

Longest Record Of Continuous Carbon Flux Data Is Now Publicly Available

September 27, 2016

This diagram of the fast carbon cycle shows the movement of carbon between land, atmosphere, and oceans. Yellow numbers are natural fluxes, and red are human contributions in gigatons of carbon per year. White numbers indicate stored carbon. Credit:

Around the world -- from tundra to tropical forests, and a variety of ecosystems in between -- environmental researchers have set up micrometeorological towers to monitor carbon, water, and energy fluxes, which are measurements of how carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor and energy (heat) circulate between the soil, plants and atmosphere. Most of these sites have been continuously collecting data, some for nearly 25 years, monitoring ecosystem-level changes through periods of extreme droughts and rising global temperatures. Each of these sites contributes to a regional network -- i.e. the European Network (Euroflux) or the Americas Network (AmeriFlux) -- and the regional networks together comprise a global network called FLUXNET.

Recognizing that a plethora of scientific insights could be gleaned from this information, over 450 sites worldwide are sharing their observation data with the FLUXNET database. The project's most recent data release -- FLUXNET2015 -- includes some of the longest continuous records of ecosystem data ever taken. The information has undergone extensive quality checks and controls (QA/QC) and is now publicly available online:

Computer scientists at the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) contributed to the development of the FLUXNET database and website, as well as the software tools that automatically perform QA/QC and fill gaps in field observations. They also helped build tools that allow researchers to easily upload, download and share datasets, as well as track how and where each site's data will be used. Much of this work was done in collaboration with colleagues at the Max Planck Institute of Biogeochemistry and the Universities of California-Berkeley (UC Berkeley), Virginia (UVA) and Tuscia, Italy.

The AmeriFlux Management Project -- which is funded by the DOE and led by Berkeley Lab, the European Ecosystems Fluxes Database and FLUXNET project -- worked with several regional networks to process and harmonize all of the information in the FLUXNET2015 release.

According to Dennis Baldocchi, UC Berkeley Professor and FLUXNET Principal Investigator, this data is allowing researchers to ask questions about long-term trends in climate and ecosystem health that would have previously been impossible to investigate. The data could also be used to help a variety of people, from meteorologists to farmers, make better-informed decisions.

"We know that the concentration of CO2 changes in an ecosystem over time, and now we can look at how these changes affect the photosynthesis or water usage of an entire forest or desert," he says. "We can also look at the affects of extreme weather events -- like hot and cold spells -- on an ecosystem."

FLUXNET: A Collaboration Decades in the Making
According to Baldocchi, an international flux collaboration began in 1995 when a handful of scientists who were just starting to collect year-round observations of the CO2 exchange between the ground and atmosphere met in La Thuile, Italy to discuss the best methods for collecting and recording data. Shortly after that meeting, the DOE created the AmeriFlux program and began funding a handful of researchers to measure CO2 exchange in a number of ecosystems around North America. Meanwhile, European counterparts were launching similar studies of ecosystems across Europe, and NASA launched the Aqua Satellite to understand Earth's water-cycle and Terra Satellite to explore connections between Earth's atmosphere, land, snow and ice, ocean and energy balance.

Concurrently, NASA also funded the FLUXNET collaboration to blend data from the regional networks to validate their satellite data. In 1999, the official FLUXNET group met again at the Marconi Conference Center in Marshall, California to work on harmonizing their datasets. This included coming up with common names, units and time-steps in their field data descriptions, which was crucial for multi-site analysis. The researchers also developed a process for filling gaps in the field data.

"When you are observing in nature it's inevitable that you will have gaps in your data because a raindrop or bug messes with a sensor, or a sensor may malfunction. We use statistical models to fill those gaps of information," says Baldocchi.

Once the initial NASA funding expired in the late 1990s, international researchers who saw a benefit in keeping the FLUXNET collaboration going sustained it through a patchwork of funds from agencies in Canada, Europe and the U.S., as well as "in-kind" support from research groups, universities and foundations. In fact, this is how Berkeley Lab's involvement in building software tools for FLUXNET began.

"It's a big deal that we are able to get hundreds of scientists to come together, trust each other, share and exchange data and work toward a common goal," says Baldocchi. "In the early days, this was a small group and everyone knew each other so we were able to meet in a place like Italy and form a personal relationship. As the community grows, software tools that track where and how each site's data is being used are invaluable to form trust."

Berkeley Lab Joins the FLUXNET Software Collaboration
Berkeley Lab computer scientists officially joined the FLUXNET collaboration in 2006, when CRD's Deb Agarwal offered to use funds from her Microsoft Research Grant to help the collaboration build a website, queryable database and a workflow for requesting and sharing site data. With limited funds, the initial versions of the FLUXNET website and database were extremely utilitarian.

"In the beginning, many researchers were nervous to share their data publicly because they risked losing credit if someone used their data without acknowledging them, or published a paper on their data before they could," says Agarwal.

"So we focused on tools that would give the site managers an incentive to comfortably share their data. In the beginning, we focused on enabling data policy compliant use of the data."
"By 2006 we were getting to the point of big data, and the computer scientists essentially provided the site managers with some guidance and 'adult supervision' by convincing us that the FLUXNET website should serve as our central point of data exchange," says Baldocchi. "Before this, a lot of scientists were just emailing data files back and forth to each other. There was no version control or vetting of the files, so we would have no idea what version was the most recent, what had been analyzed, or how it was different from the original dataset. We got all of this with the new website and database."

Once the Microsoft grant ran out, Agarwal and the Berkeley Lab team were able to maintain the FLUXNET site with limited funds from Baldocchi and DOE. At the same time, European collaborators who did have funding worked on updating the FLUXNET data standards and building tools for quantifying uncertainty in the field data, which will be especially useful for climate models. Eventually, as Berkeley Lab received funding to build tools for the AmeriFlux project, Agarwal and Gilberto Pastorello were able to work with the European collaborators on metadata standards, as well as building pipelines for QA/QC, gap filling and uncertainty quantification. Both groups leveraged this work to update tools for the global FLUXNET collaboration.

"The data in the recent release is dramatically better than previous releases," says Agarwal. "Our team re-standardized the data completely and our European collaborators completely revamped the uncertainty quantification. We created a high bar for QA/QC and ran every single site year of data through this pipeline, we manually inspected the things that weren't automated and sent data that didn't pass muster back to the sites to fix. With these new standards, we have established a baseline of quality that guarantees the sites are comparable. "

According to Gilberto Pastorello, a Berkeley Lab Computer Scientist and FLUXNET contributor, the uncertainty estimates for FLUXNET data are especially valuable for climate modelers who want to validate their simulations with FLUXNET data.

"We've adopted a model where we take the most recent and well accepted developments in the flux community and incorporate them into our pipeline, which can be quite challenging because we are having to rework some of the codes to ensure that they will run in a production environment. It's a lot of work to get the code ready to run in a very uncertain set of conditions and not misbehave," says Pastorello. "Ultimately we want to get this pipeline to a point where we can run it consistently here at Berkeley Lab and in Europe, as well as share it with the community so that anyone who wants to run it can use it."
Pastorello is also currently working with European collaborators to implement a partitioning tool into the pipeline, which will break down CO2 flux data into respiration and photosynthesis.

"It was incredibly important to me to keep this project going. This data isn't something that you can re-create, you can't start collecting this information from scratch again," says Baldocchi. "Today's FLUXNET has exceeded my hopes and aspirations, our datasets contain some of the oldest flux measurements in Europe and North America, and now we have contributors from Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific."

"People work very hard to collect field data, so their data is very valuable to them. To share it openly, the way they are doing, seems counterintuitive to their efforts, but after seeing how their data is being used to do regional and global studies more and more of these researchers want to share their data and are asking us why their data isn't in the latest FLUXNET release yet," says Pastorello. "It is extremely rewarding to see our tools help these individuals realize the advantages of FLUXNET."

Materials provided by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 
Nature Conservancy Writing Prize 2017

Enter The Nature Conservancy Australia Nature Writing Prize today!
Calling all writers! The Nature Conservancy Australia is delighted to open the fourth biennial Nature Writing Prize. 

$5,000 will be awarded to an essay of between 3,000 and 5,000 words in the genre of ‘Writing of Place’. The prize will go to an Australian writer whose entry is judged to be of the highest literary merit and which best explores his or her relationship and interaction with some aspect of the Australian landscape. The competition’s judges are award-winning journalist, author and editor Jo Chandler and novelist and critic James Bradley. The winning entry will be published in Griffith Review online as a multimedia essay.

The prize has been made possible thanks to a generous donation from the McLean Foundation, which promotes and celebrates the art of nature writing in Australia.

The deadline for submissions is January 27, 2017Click here to learn more about the prize and review the terms and conditions of entry.

NOPSEMA Requests Further Information From BP For STROMLO-1 And WHINHAM-1 Drilling Environment Plan

Media release - Published 28 September 2016
On 28 September 2016, NOPSEMA requested further information from BP Developments Australia Pty Ltd (BP) relating to their environment plan for drilling of the Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1 exploration wells in the Great Australian Bight. The requested information is expected to be provided by 28 October 2016, at which time NOPSEMA will recommence the assessment. BP can request an extension of this timeframe if required.

A request for further information is a normal part of NOPSEMA’s environment plan assessment process. NOPSEMA may request further information from a titleholder (the company proposing the activity) on any matter in an environment plan to inform its assessment of whether the plan does or does not meet the criteria for acceptance under the Environment Regulations. Once NOPSEMA has received the requested information it will become a part of the environment plan.

If a titleholder is able to demonstrate through their environment plan that they meet the criteria for acceptance then NOPSEMA must accept the plan. However, following a reasonable opportunity to modify and resubmit their environment plan, if a titleholder is unable to meet the criteria for acceptance NOPSEMA must refuse to accept the plan.

The Environment Regulations allow NOPSEMA to take as much time as required to ensure a professional, thorough and rigorous assessment is conducted.

As the national regulator, NOPSEMA’s responsibilities extend beyond assessments to on-site monitoring of compliance through planned inspections with powers to take enforcement action where necessary. NOPSEMA’s planned inspections provide assurance that an offshore petroleum activity is being managed in accordance with the accepted permissioning documents, that all equipment remains fit for its function or use, and that robust systems are in place to continually identify and control risks.

NOPSEMA has updated the status of the assessment on the Great Australian Bight Exploration Drilling Programme (Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1) activity page. Stakeholders are encouraged to subscribe to the page to receive email alerts of any changes.

Wilderness Horse Riding

Draft amendments to plans of management
Draft amendments to the plans of management for Far South Coast Escarpment Parks, Kosciuszko National Park and Mummel Gulf National Park and State Conservation Area are on public exhibition until 31 October 2016.

The plans of management for the above parks were amended in 2014 to enable a pilot program to trial horse riding in wilderness areas. The trial concluded in April 2016 and is currently being evaluated. The draft amendments propose to allow horse riding to continue in the same locations until 31 December 2017 while the evaluation is undertaken.

Have your say
To view the draft amendments, visit the Environment NSW website.

Online Consultation
Date: Sep. 16 - Oct. 31, 2016
Time: 9:00am — 5:00pm

More Information

Have Your Say On The Rocky Hill Coal Project Application

17.08.2016 : Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
An amended development application by Gloucester Resources Limited for the Rocky Hill Coal Project will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the amended proposal which involves:
  • developing and operating an open-cut coal mine to produce up to two million tonnes of coal per year for up to 21 years
  • constructing and operating a private coal haul road linking the Rocky Hill Coal Project with the Stratford Coal Complex, approximately nine kilometres to the south
  • using the private haul road to transfer coal between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm only, Monday to Saturday
  • using the private coal haul road to deliver heavy equipment and construction materials to the mine area
  • rehabilitating the site
A spokesperson for the Department said the public should also view the modification application for the Stratford Extension Project, which is being exhibited simultaneously with the amended Rocky Hill Coal Project proposal.

“The public should also note the changes from a previous Rocky Hill Coal Project proposal which was exhibited in 2013,” a spokesperson said.

“Key changes in the amended proposal include three open cut pits instead of four and no night-time hours of work. Additionally, it proposes no evening hours of work for the first three years of the project.

“In the new proposal, coal would be hauled on a private haul road to the nearby Stratford Coal Mine. The Rocky Hill project would therefore not need a Coal Handling and Preparation Plant or a rail loop and train loading bin, or a coal conveyor.
The amended proposal does not include:
  • constructing and operating an on-site Coal Handling and Preparation Plant 
  • constructing and operating a Rail Load-out Facility, including a rail loop and overhead loading bin, to dispatch the product coal to the Port of Newcastle
  • developing a three kilometre partially-enclosed overland conveyor, to link the CHPP to the Rail Load-out Facility
  • operating the mine during night-time hours
  • operating the mine during evening hours for the first three years of the mining operations.
A spokesperson for the Department said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views.

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive.

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.
“It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say.” 

To make a submission or view the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), visit 

Submissions can be made from 17 August until 14 October 2016.

Written submissions can also be made to: 
Department of Planning and Environment
Attn: Director – Resource Assessments
GPO Box 39 
Sydney NSW 2001 

The application and EIS are also available to view in person at: 
Department of Planning and Environment, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney
Nature Conservation Council, Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney 
Mid Coast Council Offices:
- 89 King Street, Gloucester 
- Breese Parade, Forster
- 2 Pulteney Street, Taree
- Customer Service Centre, 6 Church Lane, Stroud (9 am to noon)

Have your say on the modification application for Stratford Extension Project
17.08.2016 : Departmental Media Release  Author: Department of Planning and Environment

A modification application for the Stratford Extension Project will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on Stratford Coal Pty Ltd’s modification application which seeks to:
  • use a private haul road to transfer coal from the Rocky Hill Coal Project to the Stratford Coal Mine site
  • construct an extension of the existing coal stockpile to accommodate Rocky Hill’s coal, and process coal from this stockpile through the existing Stratford Coal Handling and Preparation Plant
  • place Rocky Hill product coal on the existing Stratford product coal stockpile
  • load and dispatch Rocky Hill product coal from Stratford’s existing rail loop and coal load-out system
The community can also view the related but separate Rocky Hill Coal Mine amended development application also on exhibition currently, and make a submission.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views.

"Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive," the spokesperson said.

"This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.
"It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say." 

To make a submission and the view the modification application visit 

Submissions can be made from 17 August to 14 October 2016.
Written submissions can also be made to:
Department of Planning and Environment
Attn: Director – Resource Assessments
GPO Box 39 
Sydney NSW 2001
The application is also available to view in person at:
Department of Planning and Environment, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney
Nature Conservation Council, Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney 
Mid Coast Council Offices:
- 89 King Street, Gloucester 
- Breese Parade, Forster
- 2 Pulteney Street, Taree
- Customer Service Centre, 6 Church Lane, Stroud (9 am to noon)

How Wetlands And Agriculture Could Be Causing A Global Rise In Methane

September 27, 2016: University of Royal Holloway London
Research published in the American Geophysical Union's journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles shows that recent rises in levels of methane in our atmosphere is being driven by biological sources, such as swamp gas, cow burps, or rice fields, rather than fossil fuel emissions.
Atmospheric methane is a major greenhouse gas that traps heat in our atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Its levels have been growing strongly since 2007, and in 2014 the growth rate of methane in the atmosphere was double that of previous years, largely driven by biological sources as opposed to fossil fuel emissions.

Conventional wisdom refuted
The study, led by researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London shows that methane emissions have been increasing, particularly in the tropics. Researchers discovered that biological sources, such as methane emissions from swamps, make up the majority of increase.
"Our results go against conventional thinking that the recent increase in atmospheric methane must be caused by increased emissions from natural gas, oil, and coal production. Our analysis of methane's isotopic composition clearly points to increased emissions from microbial sources, such as wetlands or agriculture" said lead author Euan Nisbet from Royal Holloway, University of London's Department of Earth Sciences.

Methane growth rate doubles
Professor Nisbet says "Atmospheric methane is one of the most potent greenhouses gases. Methane increased through most of the 20th century, driven largely by leaks from the gas and coal industries."
He continued, "At the beginning of this century it appeared that the amount of methane in the air was stabilising, but since 2007 the levels of methane have started growing again. The year 2014 was extreme, with the growth rate doubling, and large increases seen across the globe."

Tropics identified as key source
The research shows that in recent years, the increase in methane has been driven by sharp increases in the tropics, in response to changing weather patterns. It is possible that the natural processes that remove methane from the atmosphere have slowed down, but it is more likely that there's been an increase of methane emission instead, especially from the hot wet tropics.

Professor Nisbet and his team, together with the US The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have been looking at measurements and samples of air taken from places like Alert in the Canadian Arctic; Ascension, a UK territory in the South Atlantic; Cape Point, South Africa.

International collaboration leads to new conclusions
The research has been carried out by an international team of atmospheric scientists, led by Euan Nisbet, from Royal Holloway, University of London. Ed Dlugokencky, from the NOAA, Martin Manning from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand and a team from the University of Colorado's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, led by Jim White, have been working with collaborators from the UK, France, Canada, and South Africa.

E. G. Nisbet, E. J. Dlugokencky, M. R. Manning, D. Lowry, R. E. Fisher, J. L. France, S. E. Michel, J. B. Miller, J. W. C. White, B. Vaughn, P. Bousquet, J. A. Pyle, N. J. Warwick, M. Cain, R. Brownlow, G. Zazzeri, M. Lanoisellé, A. C. Manning, E. Gloor, D. E. J. Worthy, E.-G. Brunke, C. Labuschagne, E. W. Wolff, A. L. Ganesan. Rising atmospheric methane: 2007-14 growth and isotopic shift.. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 2016; DOI:10.1002/2016GB005406 

Have Your Say On A Mixed Use Development At Barangaroo South

29.09.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
Three separate proposals by Lend Lease Pty Ltd for residential buildings at 51A Hickson Road, Barangaroo will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the proposals, which seek to construct three residential buildings of 72, 60 and 29 storeys.

These will provide 775 new apartments, of which 39 apartments will be for key worker housing in the 29 storey building.

Each of the buildings will provide retail space and will include underground car spaces, storage and rubbish facilities.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views.

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive,” the spokesperson said.

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.

“It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say.”

To make a submission or view the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), visit

Barangaroo South
Barangaroo South
Barangaroo South

Submissions can be made from Thursday 29 September until Monday 14 November 2016.

Written submissions can also be made to:
Department of Planning and Environment
Attn: Director – Key Sites Assessments
GPO Box 39
Sydney NSW 2001

The application and EIS are also available to view in person at:
Department of Planning and Environment:
Information Centre, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney, until 30 September 2016
Information Centre, 320 Pitt Street, Sydney, from 4 October 2016
City of Sydney Council: Town Hall House, Level 2, 456 Kent Street, Sydney.

New Cruise Terminal For The Hunter Region

27th September 2016: 
A new multi-purpose cruise ship terminal is planned for Newcastle Harbour, which will increase tourism in the Hunter region.

The 3000-square metre facility will significantly expand the cruise industry in NSW and will be similar to Sydney's White Bay Terminal.

NSW Minister for Planning Rob Stokes said the project will deliver economic benefits to the region from new conferences, exhibitions and visiting naval vessels.

“The new terminal will not only attract new cruise ships to the annual cruise season but could also be used as a home port for cruises, which means for the first time passengers could start and end their journeys in Newcastle,” Mr Stokes said.

“This includes tourists that will come to Newcastle via the convenience of the newly expanded Newcastle airport and those driving from regional parts of the state.”

The $12.7 million in funding for the project comes from the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund via Restart NSW. Construction of the building and flow-on economic activity in the region is worth an estimated $26.7 million.

Read more about regional infrastructure on the Restart NSW website

New Report Shows Positive Changes In Australians’ Smoking Patterns

Canberra, 29 September 2016 
Tobacco smoking remains a major cause of many health problems, but according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Australians' smoking behaviours are improving-with some groups improving more than others.

The report, Tobacco Indicators: measuring mid-point progress: reporting under the National Tobacco Strategy 2012-2018, measures smoking behaviours in Australia against a range of indicators, and shows that across most, Australia is progressing well.

The report's indicators look at a range of smoking phases-including exposure to tobacco smoke, initial uptake of tobacco smoking, established smoking patterns and quitting-and measure progress since the baseline report, released in 2015.

'Since the baseline report, we've seen improvements when it comes to people taking up smoking, with fewer secondary school students and adults trying cigarettes-and those who do, are taking up tobacco smoking at older ages than in the past,' said AIHW spokesperson Tim Beard.

Falls were also recorded in the number of secondary students and adults who smoked regularly with a decline of almost a quarter for both groups.

'Our report also shows a significant fall in the number of children and non-smokers who are exposed to tobacco smoke in the home,' Mr Beard said.

While improvements were seen across all population groups, some achieved greater progress than others.

'For example, despite the fact that Indigenous smoking rates are improving, they are not improving at the same rate as non-Indigenous Australians, so the gap is widening across a number of indicators.'

Similar findings were seen for people living in Remote and Very remote areas (compared to Major cities).

Daily smoking rates significantly improved among people living in the lowest and second-lowest socioeconomic areas, but not at the same rate as those living in the highest socioeconomic area.

The report showed unclear results when it came to quitting, but some positive results were recorded among people who had smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime (referred to in the report as 'ever-smokers').

 Since the baseline report, the proportion of adult ever-smokers who have now quit smoking has risen from 47% to 52%.'

In 2013, more than half (52%) of adult ever-smokers had quit smoking (they had not smoked in the last 12 months). This was an increase from 47% in 2010.

Dementia Deaths Continue To Rise As Population Ages

28 September 2016: Media Release - Australian Bureau of Statistics
Heart disease has been Australia's leading cause of death since the early part of the 20th century, but that could be set to change as dementia death rates continue to rise, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 

There were 159,052 deaths in Australia, with the infant mortality rate at a record low (3.2 deaths per 1,000 live births) and the standardised death rate remaining low at 5.5 deaths per 1,000 people. 

James Eynstone-Hinkins, ABS Director of Health and Vital Statistics, said that over time the decline in mortality rates and increases in life expectancy are contributing to the ageing of Australia's population.

“Population projections indicate that the number of people aged 80 and over will double in the next 20 years. Understanding and managing diseases of the elderly is critical as people live longer lives,” said Mr Eynstone-Hinkins. 

“Death rates from dementia have continued to increase, while those from heart disease and stroke have steadily declined,” he said. ”If these trends continue we can expect to see dementia become our leading cause of death within the next few years.”

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both males and females, with dementia, strokes, lung cancer and chronic respiratory conditions all in the top five. 

Diabetes is Australia's sixth leading cause of death, accounting for 2.9% of all deaths in 2015. There are more than a million Australians living with diabetes, and it was considered to be a contributory factor in more than 10% of deaths in 2015.

Cancers accounted for almost 30 per cent of Australian deaths in 2015. Lung cancer accounts for the most cancer deaths, making it the second leading cause of death for males and fourth leading cause overall. 

Suicide is the leading cause of death among people 15-44 years of age and remains the leading cause of premature mortality in Australia. In 2015, suicide deaths occurred at a rate of 12.6 deaths per 100,000 people, a further increase on that recorded in 2014. 

Comprehensive data and analysis can be found in Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0) and Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3302.0), available for free download from the ABS website -
If you or anyone you know needs help please contact:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
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Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service 1800 011 046

Australia's Innovation Legacy Soars With ‘Black Box’ Flight Recorder Inventor Honoured

MEDIA RELEASE: 28 September 2016 - The Hon Darren Chester MP, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
One of Australia's greatest scientists, Dr David Warren AO, has been posthumously awarded the prestigious Edward Warner Award for the invention of the black box flight recorder.

The award was announced at the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) 39th Assembly, a specialised United Nations agency established in 1944 with responsibility for civil aviation.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester welcomed the award today and credited Dr Warren's invention with delivering one of the greatest single innovations to improve aviation safety across the globe.

“This award highlights Australia's long history of innovation and invention, with the black box flight recorder among the most recognised and used technologies throughout the world,” Mr Chester said.

“Being able to capture cockpit information offers valuable lessons in preventing future accidents and improving safety for passengers.

“Worldwide, every crash investigation agency relies upon the evidence they retrieve from Dr Warren's black box to find solutions to aviation mysteries such as tragic loss of Air France 477.

“The success of the black box in aviation has also seen the system adopted by the rail and maritime industries.

“I am delighted that such a prominent body, representing more than 190 nations, has seen fit to recognise Dr Warren through this award. It certainly reflects how important the black box has been to aviation safety, and most importantly, to saving people's lives.”

The Award was named in honour of the first President of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Dr Edward Warner, and is presented at each Assembly on behalf of all member states.

The Assembly occurs every three years and sets the organisation's worldwide policy over the next triennium. The 39th Assembly will occur between 27 September and 7 October at ICAO's headquarters in Montreal, Canada.

Plans To Tighten Pension Portability

29 September, 2016: by National Seniors
A new rule proposed by the Coalition Government would reduce the amount of time pensioners can travel overseas before having their pension adjusted.

If passed into law, the change would come into force from 1 January 2017.

National Seniors Chief Executive Dagmar Parsons said the proposal to tighten Age Pension portability unfairly targets many older people who choose to take an extended overseas trip to visit their family and friends.

“Pensioners should not be disadvantaged from travelling overseas for more than six weeks if this is the most practical option for them.

“Reducing the time allowed overseas from 26 weeks to just six weeks is too severe, given the rules for Australian Working Life Residency have already been tightened.

“This will affect a significant proportion of current and future older Australians, especially migrant pensioners,” Ms Parsons said. 

Under the proposal, older people who do not meet the Australian Working Life Residency requirement of 35 years (tightened from 25 years) will have their pension adjusted if they travel overseas for more than six weeks.

Currently, pensioners can be overseas for 26 weeks before their benefits are affected. After 26 weeks the rate of payment is based on how long a pensioner has lived in Australia between the age of 16 and Age Pension eligibility age, which is currently 65.

Pensioners who have lived in Australia as an Australian resident for 35 years will not be affected by the proposed changes.

Seniors Sick Of Cold-Calling Charity Collectors, Survey Shows

29 September, 2016: by National Seniors
National Seniors and consumer group CHOICE are calling for an end to unwanted phone calls asking for money.

Latest CHOICE research shows that 89 per cent of people received at least one unsolicited call in a six-month period.

Around 25 per cent of people said they received unwanted calls from charities on a weekly basis and nearly five per cent said they received such calls every day or several times a day.

“We are hearing from our members that the calls are making them anxious and they are reluctant to answer the phone,” said National Seniors Chief Executive Officer Dagmar Parsons.

National Seniors collected stories from older Australians affected by unwanted calls from charities, and found that people were:

avoiding answering their phones;
considering disconnecting their landlines; and
moving in with elderly relatives in order to protect them from unwanted and aggressive unsolicited phone calls seeking donations.
“Calls asking for money are intrusive and put vulnerable members of society at risk when they are hounded week in and week out,” says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.

“Unfortunately consumers can’t use the Do Not Call Register to opt out of all nuisance calls, with for-profit companies’ call centres exploiting the charity exception to hound people. 

“Clearly the law needs to change to allow people to opt-out of all unsolicited calls that involve financial transactions,” Godfrey said.

CLICK HERE to sign petition.

Superannuation Reform: Second Tranche Of Exposure Draft

27 September 2016: Joint media statement with The Hon. Kelly O'Dwyer MP, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services
The Turnbull Government has today released further Exposure Draft legislation and explanatory material for the superannuation reforms first announced in the 2016-17 Budget.

The reforms will make the superannuation system fairer, more flexible and more sustainable. The majority of Australians – 96 per cent of individuals with superannuation – will either be better off or unaffected as a result of these changes.

Around a quarter of fund members (including many low income earners) will benefit from the Government’s superannuation package.

This tranche of Exposure Drafts include legislative amendments to:
• Implement the Government’s $1.6 million transfer balance cap, which places a limit on the amount an individual can hold in the tax-free retirement phase;
• Make the taxation of concessional superannuation contributions more sustainable, by lowering the concessional contributions cap to $25,000 per year and reducing the income threshold at which individuals are required to pay an additional 15 per cent contributions tax, from $300,000 to $250,000;
• Provide greater flexibility for those with broken work patterns by allowing individuals with balances of less than $500,000 to ‘carry forward’ unused concessional cap space for up to five years;
• Encourage the development of innovative retirement income products to provide more choice and flexibility for retirees;
• Ensure that transition to retirement income streams are accessed for the purpose for which they were designed and not for tax minimisation;
• Abolish the out-dated anti-detriment provision, which effectively result in a refund of a member’s lifetime superannuation contributions tax payments into an estate; and
• Apply commensurate treatment for these measures to defined benefit schemes and constitutionally protected funds.

The release of exposure draft legislation and explanatory material on the remaining measures will follow in coming weeks. The Government remains on track to have these measures introduced into the Parliament before the end of the year. This will provide taxpayers with certainty so they can make decisions about their savings and superannuation with confidence. With the support of the Senate, there will be no impediment to this occurring.

The Exposure Draft Bill and Explanatory Memorandum is available here.Submissions will close on Monday 10 October.

Art Of Ageing Exhibition

October 21 – October 23
Oct 21 at 9 AM to Oct 23 at 3 PM
Sydney Town Hall - Lower Exhibition Halls
Cnr George and Druitt Streets, Sydney.

Art of Ageing exhibition – challenge your perceptions, discover the full picture
Ageing well isn't just about eating better and exercising more. And many perceptions about older people are just plain old. 

Like the rest of the western world, NSW is ageing. 
As part of the renewal of the NSW Ageing Strategy, photographer Louise Hawson ( has been documenting the lives of older people. 

These photographs and stories are being exhibited to celebrate the launch of the Strategy. 
Come along and discover the full picture. How do you feel about growing older?

Manuka Honey Curbs Growth Of Bacteria Even At Low Dilutions

September 26, 2016: University of Southampton
Even low dilutions of Manuka honey can curb the activity and growth of bacterial biofilms -- the thin but resilient layer of microbes that build up on, and stick to, any surface including plastic, according to new research from the University of Southampton.

The findings, published online in the Journal of Clinical Pathology, raise the prospect of the honey's potential use in patients fitted with medical devices, such as urinary catheters, which carry a high infection risk.

Around 100 million urinary catheters, used to drain the bladder of urine, are sold worldwide every year. Up to one in four hospital inpatients may have to use a catheter. However, long-term use is associated with frequent complications, such as inflammation and infection.

The use of honey as a health remedy dates back centuries, and among other things, recent research suggests that it may have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Manuka honey is a monofloral honey produced in Australia and New Zealand from the nectar of the manuka tree.

Associate Professor Bashir Lwaleed, of the University of Southampton, led the study and comments: "We have been able to demonstrate that diluted honey is potentially a useful agent for reducing biofilm formation on indwelling plastic devices such as urinary catheters. Catheter infection rates can account for a large proportion of hospital acquired infections -- it is an area of clinical practice that needs addressing. We hope that these results may offer an alternative way of preventing such infections. We believe that patients might also benefit from honey's anti-inflammatory properties, which are generally stronger in dark honeys, such as Manuka and that antibacterial resistance is unlikely to be a factor when honey is used."

To find out if Manuka honey has a role in stopping the establishment and development of biofilms, the researchers cultured strains of Escherichia coli and Proteus mirabilis bacteria on plastic plates in the laboratory. These two bacteria account for most of the urinary tract infections associated with long-term catheter use.

The honey was diluted with distilled water and added to medium to give different 'strengths': 3.3 per cent, 6.6 per cent, 10 per cent, 13.3 per cent, and 16.7 per cent.

In the first part of the experiment, the various dilutions were added at the same time as the bacteria in two of the wells of each of the 96 plates, and just plain medium or artificial half strength honey to the other two wells. These were then sealed and incubated for 24, 48, and 72 hours to see whether the honey had any effect on the formation of a biofilm.

In the second part of the experiment, honey was added after 24 hours and incubated for either a further 4 or 24 hours to see if honey restricted growth of the biofilm.

The results showed that Manuka honey strongly inhibited the 'stickiness' of the bacteria, and therefore the development of a biofilm.

Even at the lowest dilution of 3.3 per cent, it curbed stickiness by 35 per cent after 48 hours compared with the plain medium and artificial honey.

But the greatest effect was seen after three days and at a dilution of 16.7 per cent, when stickiness had been reduced by 77 per cent. All the dilutions suppressed this by around 70 per cent after three days.

As to the impact of Manuka honey on further growth, the 16.7 per cent dilution restricted growth by 38 per cent after 4 hours and by 46 per cent after 24 hours. The impact was even stronger after 48 hours, but not for the weaker dilutions of 3.3 per cent and 6.6 per cent.

The researchers point out that their study only related to the stickiness of bacteria and early biofilm development under laboratory conditions and further studies in which clinical conditions more closely resembling the flow of liquid in the bladder would be needed before any firm conclusions could be drawn.

Somadina Emineke, Alan J Cooper, Sarah Fouch, Brian R Birch, Bashir A Lwaleed. Diluted honey inhibits biofilm formation: potential application in urinary catheter management? Journal of Clinical Pathology, 2016; jclinpath-2015-203546 DOI: 10.1136/jclinpath-2015-203546

New Imaging Technique In Alzheimer's = Possibilities For New Drug Development

September 28, 2016: Lund University
Tau PET is a new and promising imaging method for Alzheimer's disease. A case study from Lund University in Sweden now confirms that tau PET images correspond to a higher degree to actual changes in the brain. According to the researchers behind the study, this increases opportunities for developing effective drugs.

There are several different methods of producing images showing the changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease. The tau PET method reveals the presence of a protein in the brain, tau, with the help of a gamma camera and a specially selected radioactive molecule (F-AV-1451).

Tau has an important function in assisting the transport of various substances within the brain's nerve cells. People with Alzheimer's disease have raised levels of tau, leading to accumulation of the protein in the brain cells and gradually to cell death.

Lund University and Skåne University Hospital are among other institutions studying patients with the tau PET method for research purposes. Until now, no one has had precise knowledge of how well the new imaging method reproduces the actual changes in a brain affected by Alzheimer's disease. The current case study, however, shows that image and reality match up well. The study has enabled researchers to compare tau PET images and brain tissue from the same person for the first time. The brain tissue came from a person who died having recently undergone examination with the new imaging method.

"Tau PET can improve diagnostics, but above all, the imaging method can be of great significance in the development of new drugs to combat Alzheimer's disease," explains Ruben Smith, researcher at Lund University and physician at Skåne University Hospital. He continues:

"There are new candidate drugs which aim to reduce the accumulation of tau. The imaging method opens up opportunities to investigate the development of the disease at a detailed level, and to observe how tau aggregates are affected by the drugs."

"The person who was examined had a mutation which led to the same type of accumulation of tau in the brain as in Alzheimer's disease. A single case study might seem insignificant, but since there are areas with a lot of tau stored and others with less tau in the same brain, it is sufficient to examine one person in order to verify whether the imaging method works," explains Oskar Hansson, professor at Lund University and consultant at Skåne University Hospital.

Interest from the research community in imaging methods focusing on tau is strong and growing. A reliable reproduction of tau protein in the brain is considered a more relevant marker and a better diagnostic tool than competing methods which are already in use.

The researchers behind the study are now focusing on tracking aggregation of tau in the brain over time and connections with diagnostics using spinal fluid samples.

Tau PET imaging is considered interesting for other, less common, neurological diseases as well, such as frontal lobe dementia and Parkinson's-like diagnoses such as PSP (progressive supranuclear palsy) and CBD (corticobasal degeneration).

The results are published in the journal Brain and the study was funded by the European Research Council (ERC), the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Alzheimer's Fund and the Swedish Brain Fund, among others.

Ruben Smith, Andreas Puschmann, Michael Schöll, Tomas Ohlsson, John van Swieten, Michael Honer, Elisabet Englund, Oskar Hansson. 18F-AV-1451 tau PET imaging correlates strongly with tau neuropathology inMAPTmutation carriers. Brain, 2016; 139 (9): 2372 DOI:10.1093/brain/aww163

C'mon Aussie: Your Diet's A Shocker

26 September 2016: CSIRO
Australia's largest ever diet survey has confirmed that the vast majority of Aussies eating habits are below par.

The 2016 CSIRO Healthy Diet Score report (PDF: (60.76kb) , released today, canvassed the dietary habits of more than 86,500 adults across the country over a 12 month period. 

An early snapshot of the survey results released in August 2015 awarded the nation's diet a score of 61 on a 100-point scale.

With almost 47,000 additional surveys completed since then that figure now stands at just 59 out of 100, confirming that Australian diets are worse than first thought.

"We have an image of being fit and healthy, but with a collective diet score of 59/100 that image could be very different unless we act now," CSIRO Research Director and co-author of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, Professor Manny Noakes said.

According to the 2016 Healthy Diet Score, 80 per cent of respondents received an individual score below 70, which is a benchmark figure.

"If we can raise our collective score by just over 10 points, we help Australia mitigate against the growing rates of obesity and lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and a third of all cancers, Professor Noakes said.

"All people need to do is halve the bad and double the good. In other words, halve the amount of discretionary food you eat and double your vegetable intake."

People across Australia, in all occupations and age groups were invited to participate in the online survey between May 2015 and June 2016.
CSIRO researchers have used this information to create a detailed picture of the country's eating habits.

The closest we get to meeting Australian Dietary Guidelines is the fruit food group where 49 per cent of respondents meet the recommended intake.

That means one in two of us still have room to improve.

But of greater concern is dietary performance in regard to discretionary, or junk foods.

Just 1 per cent of Australians are abstaining from junk food, while more than one third admitted to eating more than the recommended maximum allowance.

"We find that there is often a tendency to under-report on certain types of food, so in all likelihood that figure is even higher," Professor Noakes said.

The report showed that women have better nutritional levels than men (60 v 56/100).

Construction workers were among those with the poorest diets, while public servants, real estate agents and health industry workers reported some of the healthiest eating patterns.

The 2016 CSIRO Healthy Diet Score also tracked food avoidance in diets for the first time, and found that approximately one in three Australian adults are avoiding one or more foods such as gluten, dairy or meat.

To get involved CSIRO is asking people to undertake The Healthy Diet Score – a free online assessment which evaluates diet quality and identifies individual areas of improvement, as well as providing a personal diet score out of 100.

"It is never too late to eat better and increase your score, and the nation's," Professor Noakes said.

"We encourage people to also take the test regularly to ensure they are improving their eating behaviour and overall health and wellbeing."

For more information, or to take the free CSIRO Healthy Diet Score, please visit 

Go Online To Check On Cheaper Medicines

26 September 2016: Media Release - The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care, Minister for Sport

Millions of consumers will be able to access more affordable medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 October – and they can go online to check the savings they will make.

The Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, announced price reductions on more than 2000 medication brands on the PBS.

“I encourage consumers to visit the website and be fully informed about the steps the Government is taking to ensure all Australians have access to affordable medications when they need them,” she said.

An online spreadsheet of savings will list the medicines and their price reductions, which are up to $20 per medicine per script, in some cases.

More information about price reductions of medicines and fact sheets is available on the PBS website.  

Ms Ley said the reductions are the result of the PBS Access and Sustainability Package reforms, which passed Parliament last year.

“These changes will see the originator or first listed brand version of the drug removed from certain medicine pricing calculations, allowing the average cost of the cheaper, generic brands to be used instead.

“This will deliver savings for both consumers and taxpayers. In some cases, even where there is no change to the consumer price, there will be a reduction for taxpayers, who fund the PBS because the Government is paying less for those medications. 

“Some patients suffering multiple chronic conditions – such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes and gastric reflux – will benefit most from these reforms, potentially saving them up to $400 per year.”

For example, a non-concessional patient with diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and gastric reflux who is currently taking:
• metformin for type 2 diabetes 500mg tablet twice daily,
• pantoprazole for gastric reflux 40mg tablet daily,
• alendronate 70 mg + colecalciferol 140 microgram tablet for oteoporosis (as per dosing instructions), and
•enalapril with hydrochlorothiazide 20 mg/6 mg tablet daily for high blood pressure,
will save up to $34.19 per month on scripts, which equates to a yearly reduction of $410.28.

Prices for medications depend on a number of factors, including the program under which the medication is prescribed, and in what quantity. Prices can also vary between brands if the pharmaceutical company imposes a patient premium and may be affected by any discretionary fees added or discounts given by the pharmacy. The amount paid also varies depending on the concessional status of the patient.

These price reductions will benefit many non-concessional patients where the total cost of the script is now below the PBS co-payment amount of $38.30.

Minister Ley said the reforms also represent a significant win for taxpayers.

More than 80 per cent of the 2000 brands of medicines set to fall in price on 1 October will result in a direct saving to consumers. The remaining 20 per cent - those priced above the general PBS co-payment of $38.30 – will result in savings to taxpayers.

“These price reductions will save taxpayers $900 million over four years,” she said.

“The savings from the PBS Access and Sustainability Package are already being used to subsidise breakthrough medicines, like the melanoma treatment Keytruda, which was added to the PBS last year.”

'Teashirt' Gene Links Autism And Kidney Problems, New Study Finds

September 26, 2016: Manchester University
A gene dubbed the 'Teashirt' by its discoverers has been identified as a link between children with kidney problems and autism, in a new study which has implications for how doctors working on both conditions administer tests to their patients.

The new paper, published in the journal Nature Genetics, was led by the Developmental Biology Institute of Marseille, collaborating with The University of Manchester, and it describes the effects of mutations of Teashirt in people and mice.

The gene, formally named Tshz3, had already been implicated by the joint research team in 2008 as being essential for development of smooth muscle in the wall of the ureter. Mutant mice were born with 'blown-up' kidneys because their ureters failed to actively propel urine down to the bladder.

Professor Adrian Woolf from The University of Manchester, then working as a children's consultant in London, discovered that one of his patients born with abnormal kidneys had a deleted Tshz3 gene and also displayed characteristics of autistic spectrum disorder.

The French team also realised that mice with Tshz3 mutation not only had kidney problems but also displayed learning difficulties.

The findings sparked a global search of other kidney clinics, which returned ten more patients with similar symptoms. After genetic testing, it was confirmed that the same gene was missing in all of them -- findings which are published in the new paper.

Professor Woolf said: "The mutant mouse kidney looks just like 'hydronephrosis', the distended kidney seen in about 1 in 1,000 individuals when they are screened by sonar scans as unborn babies. It now appears that this gene is linked to at least some of these cases and that it also has implications for how our brains work in childhood."

The research was led by Professor Laurent Fasano in Marseille who discovered the teashirt gene in fruit flies in 1991. He said: "The sooner the better; early detection of this new condition will favour early behavioural therapies, which is good for the kids and their family."

The link between the two diseases has implications for how doctors work with patients who display either kidney or learning problems.

Professor Woolf, who is also a consultant at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital where he runs a renal genetics clinic, added: "A fairly simple genetic test on patients being treated for either kidney problems or autistic spectrum disorder could identify whether the Teashirt gene is missing and also highlight that the patient may need investigation for the other condition. Time will tell whether TSHZ3 plays a role in many more cases than we've currently been able to identify."

Xavier Caubit, Paolo Gubellini, Joris Andrieux, Pierre L Roubertoux, Mehdi Metwaly, Bernard Jacq, Ahmed Fatmi, Laurence Had-Aissouni, Kenneth Y Kwan, Pascal Salin, Michèle Carlier, Agne Liedén, Eva Rudd, Marwan Shinawi, Catherine Vincent-Delorme, Jean-Marie Cuisset, Marie-Pierre Lemaitre, Fatimetou Abderrehamane, Bénédicte Duban, Jean-François Lemaitre, Adrian S Woolf, Detlef Bockenhauer, Dany Severac, Emeric Dubois, Ying Zhu, Nenad Sestan, Alistair N Garratt, Lydia Kerkerian- Le Goff, Laurent Fasano. TSHZ3 deletion causes an autism syndrome and defects in cortical projection neurons. Nature Genetics, 2016; DOI:10.1038/ng.3681

The Language Of Senses

September 26, 2016: Université de Genève
Sight, touch and hearing are our windows to the world: these sensory channels send a constant flow of information to the brain, which acts to sort out and integrate these signals, allowing us to perceive the world and interact with our environment. But how do these sensory pathways emerge during development? Do they share a common structure, or, on the contrary, do they emerge independently, each with its specific features? By identifying gene expression signatures common to sight, touch and hearing, neuroscientists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, discovered a sensory "lingua franca" which facilitates the brain's interpretation and integration of sensory input. These results, to be published in Nature, pave the way toward a better understanding of perception and communication disorders.

The ability to detect and sort various kinds of stimuli is essential to interact with surrounding objects and people, and to communicate correctly. 
Indeed, social interaction deficits in people living with autism appear to be partly due difficulties in detecting and interpreting sensory signals. But how does the brain interpret and integrate the stimuli sent by our five senses? It is this very question which Denis Jabaudon, Professor at UNIGE Faculty of Medicine and his team have addressed. 'We studied the genetic structure of tactile, visual and auditory pathways in mice,' explains Laura Frangeul, the study first author. 'By observing neuronal gene expression in these distinct pathways during development, we detected common patterns, as if an underlying genetic language was bringing them together.'

A common language with tailored modulations
The Geneva neuroscientists' results thus reveal that during development, the various sensory pathways initially share a common gene expression structure, which then adapts to the activity of the organ attached to each sense. 'This process only takes a few days in mice but could take up to several months in human beings, whose development is much longer and very sensitive to the environment,' underlines Denis Jabaudon.

This genetic 'lingua franca' therefore allows the various sensory pathways to be built according to a similar architecture regardless of their very different functions. It is this shared language that allows the brain to accurately interpret stimuli coming from different sources, and to compose a coherent representation of their combined meaning.

Constant and necessary interactions
Sharing the same building plan also explains how various pathways can mutually balance out, for example when touch or hearing become highly over-developed in people born blind. This discovery also explains why sensory interferences, including synesthesias and hallucinations, can occur in people suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism or schizophrenia.

Denis Jabaudon concludes: 'Our results allow us to better understand how the brain circuits which build our representation of the world assemble during development. We are now able to examine how these findings could be put to use to repair them when they fail.'

Laura Frangeul, Gabrielle Pouchelon, Ludovic Telley, Sandrine Lefort, Christian Luscher, Denis Jabaudon. A cross-modal genetic framework for the development and plasticity of sensory pathways. Nature, 2016; DOI:10.1038/nature19770  

Scientists Track Down Possible New Treatment For Epilepsy

September 26, 2016: VIB - Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology
Increasing the concentration of specific fats in the brain could suppress epileptic seizures. This is evident from ground-breaking research carried out by the research groups of Professor Patrik Verstreken (VIB-KU Leuven) and Professor Wim Versées (VIB-Vrije Universiteit Brussel). The results of their close collaboration have been published in the leading trade journalNature Structural & Molecular Biology.

Professor Patrik Verstreken specializes in brain research, focusing on synapses. These are the junctions between two nerve cells where electrical signals are transmitted. In various brain disorders -- such as Parkinson's disease -- there is impaired communication at these synapses.

Professor Wim Versées examines the processes which take place in our cells, right down to the level of individual molecules and atoms. By figuring out the three-dimensional structures of protein molecules, he tries to obtain crucial information about their role in the cell and the mechanisms which underlie various disorders.

The key role of TBC1D24
In earlier research involving fruit flies, Professor Verstreken had already demonstrated that a protein known as 'Skywalker' plays a crucial role in maintaining communication between brain cells. An almost identical protein operates in the human brain under the name 'TBC1D24'.
Professor Patrik Verstreken (VIB-KU Leuven): "Genetic mutations of the protein TBC1D24 cause a deviation known as the DOOR syndrome. Alongside deafness, deformed nails, brittle bones and mental retardation, this serious genetic disorder is characterized by neurodegeneration, movement disorders and epilepsy."

Analysis with atomic precision
By joining forces with Professor Wim Versées at the VIB research center for structural biology, the scientists were able to figure out the three-dimensional structure of Skywalker, making it possible to study the protein in microscopic detail.

Professor Wim Versées (VIB-Vrije Universiteit Brussel): "Looking at Skywalker in this way gave us completely new insights into the precise function of this protein, and therefore also the function of the human protein TBC1D24. Among other things, we discovered that it connects with specific brain fats. And more importantly, this connection is impaired in over 70% of patients with a TBC1D24 mutation."

Suppression of epileptic seizures
On the basis of this discovery, the scientists increased the concentration of specific brain fats in fruit flies with a Skywalker mutation. What happened? The epileptic seizures in the sick fruit flies were completely suppressed.

Professor Patrik Verstreken (VIB-KU Leuven): "Our work shows that increasing specific brain fats at the synapses of patients with a TBC1D24 mutation is a possible strategy for preventing epileptic seizures. And although our work focuses on people with TBC1D24 mutations, we think that our findings could be relevant to various forms of epilepsy."

Scientific cross-pollination
Professor Wim Versées (VIB-Vrije Universiteit Brussel): "Our two research groups will now continue to collaborate in order to seek out strategies for increasing the concentration of specific fats in the brain to prevent epileptic seizures. This research stems from cross-pollination between structural biology, biochemistry and genetics, so we will certainly continue down this interdisciplinary route."

Baptiste Fischer, Kevin Lüthy, Jone Paesmans, Charlotte De Koninck, Ine Maes, Jef Swerts, Sabine Kuenen, Valerie Uytterhoeven, Patrik Verstreken, Wim Versées. Skywalker-TBC1D24 has a lipid-binding pocket mutated in epilepsy and required for synaptic function.Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.3297

Morning Sickness Linked To Lower Risk Of Pregnancy Loss

September 26, 2016: National Institutes of Health
A new analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health has provided the strongest evidence to date that nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is associated with a lower risk of miscarriage in pregnant women. The study, appearing in JAMA Internal Medicine, was conducted by researchers at NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and other institutions.

Nausea and vomiting that occurs in pregnancy is often called "morning sickness," as these symptoms typically begin in the morning and usually resolve as the day progresses. For most women, nausea and vomiting subside by the 4th month of pregnancy. Others may have these symptoms for the duration of their pregnancies. The cause of morning sickness is not known, but researchers have proposed that it protects the fetus against toxins and disease-causing organisms in foods and beverages.

"It's a common thought that nausea indicates a healthy pregnancy, but there wasn't a lot of high-quality evidence to support this belief," said the study's first author, Stefanie N. Hinkle, Ph.D, a staff scientist in NICHD's Epidemiology Branch. "Our study evaluates symptoms from the earliest weeks of pregnancy, immediately after conception, and confirms that there is a protective association between nausea and vomiting and a lower risk of pregnancy loss."

For their study, Dr. Hinkle and her colleagues analyzed data from the Effects of Aspirin in Gestation and Reproduction (EAGeR) trial, in which researchers tested whether taking daily low-dose aspirin prevents women who experienced one or two prior pregnancy losses from experiencing a future loss.

The authors looked at data from all the women in the study who had a positive pregnancy test. The women kept daily diaries of whether they experienced nausea and vomiting in the 2nd through the 8th week of their pregnancies and then responded to a monthly questionnaire on their symptoms through the 36th week of pregnancy. The study authors noted that most previous studies on nausea and pregnancy loss were not able to obtain such detailed information on symptoms in these early weeks of pregnancy. Instead, most of studies had relied on the women's recollection of symptoms much later in pregnancy or after they had experienced a pregnancy loss.

In the EAGeR trial, a total of 797 women had positive pregnancy tests, with 188 pregnancies ending in loss. By the 8th week of pregnancy, 57.3 percent of the women reported experiencing nausea and 26.6 percent reported nausea with vomiting. The researchers found that these women were 50 to 75 percent less likely to experience a pregnancy loss, compared to those who had not experienced nausea alone or nausea accompanied by vomiting.

Stefanie N. Hinkle, Sunni L. Mumford, Katherine L. Grantz, Robert M. Silver, Emily M. Mitchell, Lindsey A. Sjaarda, Rose G. Radin, Neil J. Perkins, Noya Galai, Enrique F. Schisterman. Association of Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy With Pregnancy Loss. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2016; DOI:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5641 

How Cancer’s 'Invisibility Cloak' Works

September 26, 2016: The University of British Columbia (UBC)
UBC researchers have discovered how cancer cells become invisible to the body's immune system, a crucial step that allows tumours to metastasize and spread throughout the body.

"The immune system is efficient at identifying and halting the emergence and spread of primary tumours but when metastatic tumours appear, the immune system is no longer able to recognize the cancer cells and stop them," said Wilfred Jefferies, senior author of the study working in the Michael Smith Laboratories and a professor of Medical Genetics and Microbiology and Immunology at UBC.

"We discovered a new mechanism that explains how metastatic tumours can outsmart the immune system and we have begun to reverse this process so tumours are revealed to the immune system once again."

Cancer cells genetically change and evolve over time. Researchers discovered that as they evolve, they may lose the ability to create a protein known as interleukein-33, or IL-33. When IL-33 disappears in the tumour, the body's immune system has no way of recognizing the cancer cells and they can begin to spread, or metastasize.

The researchers found that the loss of IL-33 occurs in epithelial carcinomas, meaning cancers that begin in tissues that line the surfaces of organs. These cancers include prostate, kidney breast, lung, uterine, cervical, pancreatic, skin and many others.

Working in collaboration with researchers at the Vancouver Prostate Centre, and studying several hundred patients, they found that patients with prostate or renal (kidney) cancers whose tumours have lost IL-33, had more rapid recurrence of their cancer over a five-year period. They will now begin studying whether testing for IL-33 is an effective way to monitor the progression of certain cancers.

"IL-33 could be among the first immune biomarkers for prostate cancer and, in the near future, we are planning to examine this in a larger sample size of patients," said Iryna Saranchova, a PhD student in the department of microbiology and immunology and first author on the study.

Researchers have long tried to use the body's own immune system to fight cancer but only in the last few years have they identified treatments that show potential.

In this study Saranchova, Jefferies and their colleagues at the Michael Smith Laboratories, found that putting IL-33 back into metastatic cancers helped revive the immune system's ability to recognize tumours. Further research will examine whether this could be an effective cancer treatment in humans.

This study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
This research was funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

This research was completed with co-authors: Jeff Han, Hui Huang, Franz Fenninger, Kyung Bok Choi, Lonna Munro and Cheryl Pfeifer at the Michael Smith Laboratories, the Centre for Blood Research, the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, and the departments of medical genetics, zoology and microbiology and immunology at UBC; as well as Alexander Wyatt, Ladan Fazli and Martin Gleave at the Vancouver Prostate Centre, a research hub hosted by UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute; and Ian Welch in UBC Animal Care Services.

How does IL-33 work?
Cancer cells genetically change and evolve. As the cells evolve, they lose the ability to create a protein known as interleukein-33 (IL-33). This protein influences another protein complex, known as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), that act as beacons to help identify whether a given cell is a good cell or a bad cell. With these proteins working, primary tumour cells put warning flags on the outside of the cell so that immune cells recognize it and destroy it. When interleukin-33 disappears in the tumour, the flag-displaying pathway falls apart and body's immune system has no way of recognizing the cancer cells and they can begin to spread, or metastasize.

Iryna Saranchova, Jeffrey Han, Hui Huang, Franz Fenninger, Kyung Bok Choi, Lonna Munro, Cheryl Pfeifer, Ian Welch, Alexander W. Wyatt, Ladan Fazli, Martin E. Gleave, Wilfred A. Jefferies. Discovery of a Metastatic Immune Escape Mechanism Initiated by the Loss of Expression of the Tumour Biomarker Interleukin-33. Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 30555 DOI: 10.1038/srep30555 


28 September 2016
Prime Minister of Australia
Hon. Malcolm Turnbull
Australia mourns the passing of Shimon Peres, his life was as eventful as it was long: his passion for the State of Israel, which he helped found, as strong as his commitment to peace.

Moving to Tel Aviv with his family from Poland in 1934, he served in Israel’s pre-independence military organisation, the Haganah. Following Israel’s independence in 1948, he worked alongside Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion.

In the decades that followed he served twice as Prime Minister, including after Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995. He served in multiple governments as foreign minister and defence minister and later as President of Israel, from 2007 to 2014.

Shimon Peres was a fierce defender of Israel’s security and its ability to defend itself. He was equally a tireless advocate for peace.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace for his efforts in support of the Oslo Accords and for his continued pursuit of peace for Israel with its neighbours.

He remained staunchly committed to the belief that Israelis and Palestinians could live side-by-side, in peace and security. He sought to build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians, using his Peres Centre for Peace to support programs aimed at co-existence, reconciliation, tolerance and innovation.

My wife Lucy had the honour of visiting Shimon Peres a few months ago, at the Peres Centre for Peace. He told her the secret of perpetual youth was to ensure that your list of dreams always remained longer than your list of achievements. On that test, Shimon Peres remained the youngest of leaders.

Shimon Peres had a special fondness for Australia. He spoke emotionally of the sacrifices made by Australians who fell in World War 1 in the Middle East, so far from home, and he would recall warmly the friendliness and informality of the Australian diggers stationed in Israel during World War 2.

We extend our condolences to Shimon Peres’ children, to the government and people of Israel, and to his many friends in the Australian Jewish community who enjoyed a friendship with Shimon Peres spanning many decades.

Ambassador To Austria

28 September 2016: Media Release - The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs

Today I announce the appointment of Dr Brendon Hammer as Australia's next Ambassador to Austria, with non-resident accreditation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Kosovo, Slovakia and Slovenia. 

Australia enjoys warm relations with Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Kosovo, Slovakia and Slovenia. We cooperate closely on a range of multilateral issues, such as human rights, security, non-proliferation, counter-terrorism and law enforcement.

Our two-way investment with Austria was valued at over $7 billion in 2015, with Austrian investment in machinery, oil production, infrastructure, communication systems and the electrical industry.  Austrian market opportunities for Australian businesses include tourism, biotech, financial services, education, research and innovation.

Vienna is a centre for multilateral activity in nuclear non-proliferation and the safe and secure application of civil nuclear technology. Dr Hammer will be Australia's Governor on the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Permanent Representative to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation Preparatory Commission (CTBTO). He will be accredited to the United Nations Office in Vienna (UNOV), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Dr Hammer is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). He has served overseas as Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo with an earlier posting to Washington. In DFAT, he was most recently First Assistant Secretary, Americas Division. He has also served as Assistant Secretary, Parliamentary and Media Branch and Head of the Iraq Taskforce. Dr Hammer was also Deputy Director-General at the Office of National Assessments from 2004 to 2009 and Assistant Secretary, Defence, Intelligence and Security Branch, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Dr Hammer holds a PhD in chemistry from the Australian National University. He is expected to take up his appointment in October 2016.

I thank outgoing Ambassador David Stuart for his contribution to advancing Australia's interests in the region since 2012 and in the IAEA and the UN, in particular on drug and crime issues.

Vietnam War Commemorative Service

28 September 2016 - The Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Defence Personnel
The Minister for Veterans Affairs and Defence Personnel, Dan Tehan, today paid tribute to the families of Australia’s service men and women.

The War Widows’ Guild and the Partners of Veterans Association of Australia will tomorrow hold a joint commemorative service to mark the Vietnam conflict at the Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park in Sydney at 11am.

The Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), patron to the War Widows’ Guild of Australia and Her Excellency Lady Cosgrove patron to The Partners of Veterans Association of Australia will lay a wreath on behalf of the people of Australia.

Mr Tehan said the service was a reminder of the sacrifice made by the families of service men and women in defence of our country.

“As a nation we honour the service and sacrifice of the Australians who serve in our armed forces during conflicts as well as peace-time,” Mr Tehan.

“The Vietnam War commemorative service organised by the War Widows’ Guild and the Partners of Veterans Association of Australia is a timely reminder of the sacrifices also made by the families of our service men and women.

“Unless you have been in that position, it is difficult to imagine the thoughts and feelings our Defence families experience when a loved one is in danger because of their service.

“These families share a unique bond and provide each other with valuable support, as a nation we are grateful to them.”

New Drone Rules Cut Red Tape

Wednesday 28th September: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
New rules that cut the cost and red tape of operating very small commercial drones while protecting public safety take effect from 29 September 2016.

People and organisations wanting to fly commercial drones with a maximum take-off weight of less than two kilograms no longer need to apply for a certificate and licence from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

This means very small commercial drone operators can avoid the requirement to pay about $1400 in regulatory fees, as well as the need to develop manuals and other documentation.

Public safety is being protected by a requirement to follow strict operating conditions at all times.

There is also a requirement to complete an online notification process so CASA has the details of all under two kilogram commercial drone operators.

Operators must acknowledge they know and will follow the strict operating conditions and will comply with the Civil Aviation Act and regulations.  Penalties can be issued by CASA for breaches of the regulations.

The operating conditions for under two kilogram commercial drones include only flying during the day and in line of sight, no flying within 30 metres of people, no flying above 120 metres, no flying within 5.5 kilometres of a controlled airport and no flying over populous areas such as beaches, parks and sporting ovals.

Drones must not be flown in an area near emergency operations such as firefighting, accidents or search and rescue.

Anyone who wants to operate an under two kilogram commercial drone outside the standard operating conditions must apply to CASA for a remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificate and a remote pilot licence.

The new rules also introduce a category for landholders which means drones up 25 kilograms can be operated without the need for CASA approvals

This can be done as long as the drone is only operated on the landholders or leaseholder’s own property and there is no remuneration.  The notification requirement applies.

Find more detail about the new rules, the online notification system and drone safety at

Women Are Less Than A Quarter Of Top One Per Cent, High Incomes Study Shows

September 27, 2016: London School of Economics (LSE)
A new study by LSE's International Inequalities Institute shows that women make up a smaller and smaller fraction of those with high incomes, the closer you get to the top. Women have been increasing their representation in the top 10 per cent, but progress has been much less at the very top 0.1 per cent.Tony Atkinson (Oxford University and LSE), Alessandra Casarico (Bocconi University, Milan) and Sarah Voitchovsky (Graduate Institute, Geneva and University of Melbourne) use tax data from eight countries since the 1980s or earlier to look for the first time at the gender composition of those with top incomes from all sources, not just from earnings.

They find that:
Women are less than a third of those in the top 10% in all countries, and as few as 22 per cent in Norway. Women are less than a quarter of the top 1% in all the countries, and less than 18 per cent in Norway, Demark and the UK. Only 9 per cent of the top 0.1% in the UK are women, the lowest of the six countries that can be compared.

The presence of women at the top has generally increased over time (although not in Australia), but less rapidly at the very top. Over time the speed of the fall in the presence of women moving from the top to the very top has become more marked -- there appears to be a 'glass ceiling' at the very top, despite some improvements for the top 10%. In the UK while the share of women in the top 10% and top 1% has risen since the 1990s, the share of women in the top 0.1 per cent was little changed. The research shows that it is important to look not just at the gender gap in pay from work, but also at who benefits from other kinds of income, such as dividends and interest.

Alessandra Casarico said, "Women now make up more of the top income groups, but they still are a distinct minority and they become rarer the higher one climbs. Composition of income is important: In the old days, the rich were those with property; they have been replaced by CEOs and entrepreneurs, among whom women are not well represented."

"Top incomes and the gender divide," International Inequalities Institute Working paper No.5, will be available

Timor Sea Conciliation

Joint media release: The Hon Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs and  Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General
26 September 2016
The current treaty arrangements between Australia and Timor-Leste have been hugely beneficial to Timor-Leste and have supported the accumulation of a $16 billion sovereign wealth fund. 

Revenues from the Joint Petroleum Development Area are split 90 percent to Timor-Leste and 10 percent to Australia. Despite these beneficial treaty arrangements, on 11 April 2016, Timor-Leste requested a Conciliation Commission under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to conciliate differences between Australia and Timor-Leste on maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea.  

The Conciliation Commission announced on 26 September that it has jurisdiction to proceed with the conciliation.  

Australia accepts the Commission’s decision and will continue to engage in good faith as we move to the next phase of the conciliation process.  This approach is consistent with our support for the rules-based international order.

Australia abides by the pre-existing and legally-binding 2002 Timor Sea Treaty and 2006 Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS). We seek to uphold these treaty arrangements which are consistent with international law and were negotiated in good faith.

We have a strong interest in Timor-Leste’s stability and growing prosperity, and in providing a stable and transparent framework for investment in the Timor Sea.  We are committed to working together to strengthen our relationship and overcome our differences in the Timor Sea.

The role of the Conciliation Commission is to assist the parties reach a settlement.  In accordance with the provisions of UNCLOS, the Commission will produce a report which, unlike an arbitration decision, is not legally binding.

Quantum Computing A Step Closer To Reality

September 27, 2016: Australian National University

Dr Geoff Campbell and Mr Jesse Everett. Credit: Stuart Hay, ANU
Physicists at The Australian National University (ANU) have brought quantum computing a step closer to reality by stopping light in a new experiment.

Lead researcher Jesse Everett said controlling the movement of light was critical to developing future quantum computers, which could solve problems too complex for today's most advanced computers.

"Optical quantum computing is still a long way off, but our successful experiment to stop light gets us further along the road," said Mr Everett from the Research School of Physics and Engineering (RSPE) and ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology at ANU.
He said quantum computers based on light -- photons -- could connect easily with communication technology such as optic fibres and had potential applications in fields such as medicine, defence, telecommunications and financial services.

The research team's experiment -- which created a light trap by shining infrared lasers into ultra-cold atomic vapour -- was inspired by Mr Everett's discovery of the potential to stop light in a computer simulation.
"It's clear that the light is trapped, there are photons circulating around the atoms," Mr Everett said.

"The atoms absorbed some of the trapped light, but a substantial proportion of the photons were frozen inside the atomic cloud."
Mr Everett likened the team's experiment at ANU to a scene from Star Wars: The Force Awakens when the character Kylo Ren used the Force to stop a laser blast mid-air.

"It's pretty amazing to look at a sci-fi movie and say we actually did something that's a bit like that," he said.

Associate Professor Ben Buchler, who leads the ANU research team, said the light-trap experiment demonstrated incredible control of a very complex system.

"Our method allows us to manipulate the interaction of light and atoms with great precision," said Associate Professor Buchler from RSPE and ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology at ANU.

Co-researcher Dr Geoff Campbell from ANU said photons mostly passed by each other at the speed of light without any interactions, while atoms interacted with each other readily.

"Corralling a crowd of photons in a cloud of ultra-cold atoms creates more opportunities for them to interact," said Dr Campbell from RSPE and ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology at ANU.

"We're working towards a single photon changing the phase of a second photon. We could use that process to make a quantum logic gate, the building block of a quantum computer," Dr Campbell said.

The research was supported by funding from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, which involves ANU, University of New South Wales, University of Melbourne, University of Queensland, Griffith University, University of Sydney, Australian Defence Force Academy, along with 12 international university and industry partners.

The results from the experiment are published in Nature Physics.
J. L. Everett, G. T. Campbell, Y.-W. Cho, P. Vernaz-Gris, D.B. Higginbottom, O. Pinel, N. P. Robins, P. K. Lam, B. C. Buchler. Dynamical observations of self-stabilizing stationary light. Nature Physics, 2016; DOI:10.1038/nphys3901 

Win For Farmers With Proposed Backpacker Tax Rate Cut

27 September 2016: Media Release - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker

• Proposed backpacker tax will be cut from 32.5 per cent to 19 per cent from 1 January 2017.
• Win for farmers ahead of peak tourist and harvest time.
• Increase in Passenger Movement Charge and Departing Australia Superannuation Payment tax.

The proposed 32.5 per cent tax rate that was to apply to working holiday visa holders will be slashed to 19 per cent following strong representations by The Nationals in Government.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker, said the change recognised the importance of keeping regional economies strong.

"The win on backpacker tax is a win for our farmers who can get their fruit off the tree, off the vine and off to market," Minister Joyce said.

"The Nationals, including Assistant Minister Luke Hartsuyker and our Senators and Members of Parliament have been fearless champions on behalf of their regions, their agricultural stakeholders and common sense.

"The decision to reduce the proposed tax rate from 32.5 per cent to 19 per cent tax maintains Australia's status as one of the most competitive destinations for working holiday makers, while ensuring they pay a fair level of tax.

"Australia's Working Holiday Maker programme provides a vital source of labour, particularly across the agriculture and tourism sectors.

"The peak tourism and harvest season is ahead of us - from mangoes, lychees, bananas and avocadoes in the north, to asparagus, cherries and berries in the south.

"I would also like to thank Assistant Minister Luke Hartsuyker for his hard work on the review."

Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker, said the government had remained committed to resolving the issue quickly and fairly.

"More than 1700 stakeholders contributed to the review through written submissions and face to face consultations. They made it clear that an early resolution to the tax rate issue was needed.

"Today's announcement demonstrates the Government listened and is now providing certainty to stakeholders for the upcoming harvest and tourism seasons.

"Today's outcome has been made with an informed understanding not only of the labour challenges facing our agriculture and tourism sectors, but also the challenges facing the Australian economy in a global labour market.

"The review was about more than the tax rate, and the government will continue to consider a number of issues and suggestions that emerged through the review."

Information about the changes will be progressively uploaded to

Canavan Welcomes Macfarlane's Appointment To Queensland Resources Council

26 September 2016: Media Release - Senator the Hon Matt Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan has welcomed the appointment of Ian Macfarlane as Chief Executive of the Queensland Resources Council and said he would be a strong successor to build on more than a decade of leadership under Michael Roche.

“Ian Macfarlane has a depth of knowledge from his time as Australia’s longest-serving resources minister and a track record of policy making and public advocacy to strengthen both the resources industry as well as the communities that rely upon it,” Minister Canavan said.

“His time in the portfolio was characterised by a bipartisan approach to reach across the political aisle to the benefit of the sector and I welcome his appointment as another strong voice for the Queensland resources industry.

“I look forward to working with Ian to further strengthen Queensland’s resources sector.

“I also congratulate outgoing Chief Executive Michael Roche on his achievements during 11 years at the helm of the Queensland Resources Council.

“During those years the sector has undergone one of the most significant transformations in its history.  Michael has been an assured and effective leader, having steered the sector through both boom times and challenges.  I wish him all the best for his future.

“The Australian resources sector underpins the national economy and Queensland is one of our powerhouse states.  The Australian Government will continue to put in place policies that drive our prosperity and encourage investment and jobs growth in this sector.”

Millers Point Sales Help House The Homeless

25 September 2016: Media Release – NSW Dept. of Family & Community Services
People who were homeless or on the housing waiting list now have a roof over their head with hundreds of new dwellings built from the sales of valuable taxpayer owned properties at Millers Point.

Social Housing Minister Brad Hazzard said proceeds of the sales to date have been used to construct or commence construction on nearly 650 dwellings.

“Multi-million dollar properties in and around Millers Point have been sold by the NSW Government on behalf of taxpayers to ensure we can assist more vulnerable residents into housing.

“The majority of the residents who lived in Millers Point have recognised that by accepting an offer to move into their choice of accommodation in local areas including Pyrmont, Glebe, Woolloomooloo and Marrickville that they have helped other vulnerable people obtain housing.

“I have stood with people moving into new housing from the proceeds of Millers Point who thought they would never get social housing and they are so thankful to those residents who agreed to move.

Suburbs that have received new housing include:
• Abbotsford
• Canley Heights
• Casula
• Bankstown
• Corrimal
• Bexley North
• Condell Park
• Greenacre
• Seven Hills
• Yagoona
• Birrong
• Jannali
• Northmead
• Smithfield
• Campbelltown
• Kingswood
• Narwee
• Towradgi
• Penrith
• Revesby
• Unanderra

“Moving house is a challenge for anybody and sometimes there are circumstances where we do have to ask social housing tenants to move as their circumstances change, or there are other imperative needs such as building new housing or renewal of old housing,” Mr Hazzard said.

The Millers Point sales are expected to generate more than $500 million dollars for building new social housing in NSW, with an estimated 1500 new housing units to help reduce the social housing waiting list.

More than 570 people were living in social housing in Millers Point in 2014 and close to 65 remain.

“I thank the Millers Point residents who have moved for understanding the need to provide more social housing for the 60,000 vulnerable people on the waiting list,” Mr Hazzard said.

Anniversary Of The Battle Of Polygon Wood

The Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Defence Personnel, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security , Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
26 September 2016
Australia honours the service and sacrifice of those who fought in the Battle of Polygon Wood on the 99th anniversary today.

Almost 6,000 Australians from the Australian Imperial Force 4th and 5th Divisions were killed or wounded in the battle fought near Ypres in Belgium during the First World War.

The attack on Polygon Wood was the 5th Division’s first major battle since Fromelles in July 1916, and the first time in the First World War two Australian Divisions fought side by side.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said we must never forget the sacrifice of every Australian who has served in our armed forces and the sacrifice of those who serve today.

“On the anniversary of Polygon Wood, we should reflect on the experiences of the soldiers who fought in that battle so far from home and particularly those who paid the ultimate price,” Mr Tehan said.

“The Australians captured the Butte at Polygon Wood – a fortified mound – upon which veterans of the battle later chose to erect the 5th Division Memorial, which is the memorial that today commemorates that division’s sacrifice on the Western Front.

“I am pleased to announce the Australian Government, with the assistance of the Belgium Government, will hold a Dawn Service to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Polygon Wood next year. This service will commemorate the centenary of many of the 1917 battles in this region, and will be held at Buttes New British Cemetery at Polygon Wood.”

Further information about the 100th anniversary commemorations is available at:

International Centre Turns To CSIRO To Plan For A Food-Secure Future

27 September 2016: CSIRO
Work by CSIRO to predict Australia’s possible agricultural future is gaining international attention for its potential to improve food security in the developing world.

The organisation that catalysed the ‘Green Revolution’, improving crop yields and food security and preventing hundreds of millions of people from starving, is this year celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (known as CIMMYT by its Spanish acronym) is a global leader in the development of high-yielding grain varieties and improved farming practices.

Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds, who led CSIRO's integration science and modelling work, has been asked to present the 2015 Australian National Outlook at CIMMYT's definitive 50thbirthday party happening this week in Mexico, a conference themed: Turning research into impact: past, present and future.

The first of its kind, the outlook linked nine national and global models to provide an integrated analysis of economic activity, agriculture and food, energy, water, land use, biodiversity, material flows and climate change.

"The aim of the outlook was to find and explore the ways Australia could navigate through interconnected future challenges, to better meet the needs of a growing national and global population," Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.

"These challenges are not unique to Australia, and CIMMYT can see how the flexible integrated approach demonstrated by CSIRO can help identify and test options for reducing poverty and improving food security across diverse developing world contexts," he said.

While CIMMYT is best known for supplying the world with hardier and higher-yielding wheat and maize varieties, the best science estimates this is only likely to contribute about half of the productivity gains needed to meet future food demands.

The remainder will need to come from more productive and efficient farming systems, such as precision maize and wheat farming, with efficient use of soil, water and fertiliser.

"In Australia, the outlook told us that for agriculture to thrive, we need to focus our efforts on innovative technologies, enabling infrastructure and meeting and developing new markets for agrifood exports," Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.

"Most importantly, the outlook highlighted the need for continuing agricultural productivity increases to meet greater demand globally and that higher food and energy costs were likely," he said.

It also revealed significant opportunities for reducing carbon emissions, promoting voluntary conservation and diversifying farm incomes.

While it warned of future challenges for agriculture in the face of climate change, it showed that with the right choices, sustainability and economic growth can be partners rather than competitors.

"These insights into what is required to ensure a sustainable agricultural sector in Australia have been welcomed by business, government agencies, and NGO groups, and CSIRO is developing new partnerships within Australia to extend this analysis across a wider range of issues," Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.

"Similarly, amid increased pressure on land and other resources, CIMMYT is looking for insights into where it can best target its efforts to have the greatest impact on farm productivity and sustainability, and ultimately on poverty reduction and food security."

"With the outlook, we have shown how analysing interactions across different sectors can help identify new opportunities, unlocking previously unrecognised potential and improving risk management," he said.
CSIRO and CIMMYT have a long history of collaboration over many of the past 50 years.

A particular focus has been on the breeding of rust-resistant wheat varieties addressing the global food security cost where millions of tonnes of wheat are lost to rust pathogens each year.

CSIRO researchers have provided wheat breeders, both locally and internationally, with more than 20 genetic markers, helping the industry keep one step ahead of this costly disease.

This collaboration continues, with an increased emphasis on farm system modelling.

CSIRO is one of many international organisations which is proud to be associated with CIMMYT and its achievements over the past 50 years, most notable of which are a Nobel laureate (Norman Borlaug), three World Food Prize Winners and the training of more than 10,000 scientists.
CIMMYT's work is estimated to provide at least $2 billion in annual benefits to farmers.

More than 70 per cent of the wheat grown in developing countries and more than 50 per cent of improved maize varieties originate from CIMMYT.

Each year, the organisation sends half a million seed packages to 100 countries.

"CSIRO is looking forward to many more years of collaboration, and is excited to partner with CIMMYT in working towards a world without hunger, improved food security, and sustainable and resilient agricultural systems," Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.

Parents Primary School Choice About More Than Academic Results

Media Release — 27 September 2016
Australian parents decide which primary school is best for their child based on convenience and a host of other largely, personal factors that go beyond academic outcomes, according to new research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The Institute’s Director, Anne Hollonds said the data – from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children – examined the key factors in parents’ decisions about the type of primary school their child would attend.

The study – involving 8,000 families – looked at how school choice was affected by parents’ education, household income and their educational aspirations for children, as well as why some families later decided to switch schools.

“Government schools are still the major provider of primary school education in Australia, followed by 19 per cent of school children who attend Catholic primary schools and 12 per cent who attend independent schools,” she said.

“However, the question of which school is best for their child is becoming increasingly significant to Australian parents and mothers, in particular, tend to do a lot of research into the school community, its reputation, academic performance and the affordability of fees.

“Overall, our research showed that the most commonly cited reasons for choosing a particular school were the convenience of its location to family, whether other family members were attending, its academic quality and its philosophical or religious focus.”

AIFS’ Research Fellow, Diana Warren said the reasons behind school choice varied significantly depending on whether parents opted to send their child to a government or an independent school.

“Among children attending a government school, the most common reasons for the parents’ choice were convenience for the family and whether other family members were at the school,” she said.

“For children whose parents chose an independent school, academic results were most commonly cited as the motivating factor behind that decision, followed by the school’s religious values.

“Children whose parents’ combined income was in the top quarter were more than twice as likely to attend an independent school, compared to children whose parents’ income was in the middle to upper middle range.
“Parents’ education levels were also linked to school choice. Among children whose mother had a degree qualification, 42 per cent attended a non-government school, compared to 25 per cent of children whose mothers did not complete year 12.

“Parents educational expectations for their child were another factor, with 18 per cent of children whose parents expected them to obtain postgraduate qualifications sent to an independent school, compared to 6 per cent of parents who didn’t expect their child to obtain a university degree.
“For many parents, academic results matter but other factors are also important. For parents who choose a Catholic or independent school, religious values are more important, while others make the choice simply for reasons of convenience or family reasons.”

Ms Warren said that the research also examined parents’ reasons for changing primary schools and cross-matched findings with MySchool data, which provides parents with information about schools’ NAPLAN performance and levels of community advantage.

“Around 16 per cent of children who were in year 1 at age 6-7 had changed schools by age 8-9. For half of these families, the main reason was a residential move but it’s likely that some families made the move in other to live in a better area, with better schools and better learning opportunities.

“The most common type of transition was from one government school to another which involved 60 per cent of children, while 10 per cent moved from a government to an independent school, 7 per cent from one Catholic school to another and 5 per cent between independent schools.

Ms Warren said that parents’ attempts to switch schools in pursuit of stronger educational opportunities produced mixed results.

“Of those children who changed schools for better learning opportunities, almost 60 per cent had moved to a school with an average NAPLAN score at least half a standard deviation higher than that of their previous school,” she said.

“But for those who simply changed addresses, only 44 per cent had moved to a higher performing school, while almost 30 per cent had moved to a school with a lower level of academic performance.

“For parents who place a high value on a schools’ academic achievement, information on the MySchool website may influence their choice of schools. However, most parents who are weighing up the costs and benefits of various schools take more than the Naplan scores into account.”

 Read LSAC Annual Statistical Report: Chapter 7 - Parents' choices of primary school

Privacy Commissioners Reveal The Hidden Risks Of The Internet Of Things

Friday, 23 September 2016
A global sweep of Internet of Things products has revealed that 71 per cent of devices and services used by Australians did not provide a privacy policy and notices to adequately explain how personal information is collected, used and dis closed.

The results have been released by the Australian Privacy Commissioner, and fellow international regulators, through the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN).

Internet of Things technology is built into all kinds of services like movie streaming, fitness trackers, home appliances and children’s toys. But the seamless nature of how these devices collect, store and share user information means that customers are not always fully aware of the privacy risks.

Accordingly, the 26 privacy enforcement authorities that make up GPEN examined the privacy policies of over 300 businesses around the world, including 45 used by Australian consumers every day.

The Australian report found that:
• 71 per cent failed to properly explain how information was stored
• 69 per cent did not adequately explain how customers could delete their information off the device
• 38 per cent failed to include easily identifiable contact details if customers had privacy concerns
• 91 per cent did not advise customers to customise their privacy settings.

Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, found that the Australian businesses assessed as part of the sweep generally lacked clear information for customers about how their personal information was being managed — with more than half failing to adequately explain how personal information was collected, used and disclosed.

‘The Internet of Things allows for some great products and entertainment, but many of us have adopted this technology into our everyday lives without considering how much of our personal information is being captured or what happens to that information.

‘Remember, for an Internet of Things device to work for you it needs to know about you, so you should know what information is being collected and where it is going.

‘I encourage all Australians to look for privacy policies before you decide to use a device, and ensure you are comfortable with what information is being collected and how it is being managed.’

The Commissioner said that the majority of the businesses reviewed in the sweep could benefit from better explaining their information handling practices to customers.

The Commissioner’s office is working with businesses and start-ups to help them better understand their privacy obligations, and creating a range of educational materials on developing and implementing best privacy practices.

‘This year’s GPEN sweep has reinforced how important it is for businesses, particularly start-ups, to implement a ‘privacy-by-design’ approach, where strong privacy frameworks and communications are implemented from the beginning.

‘Strong privacy protections and clear explanations for how personal information is managed helps build consumer trust. It also avoids the costly exercise of building these privacy frameworks later on, most often after something has already gone wrong.’

For further information, please visit or follow @OAICgov.

Baby Kookaburras In Our Backyard

Every year around this time we begin to see all the baby birds the birds living in our trees have hatched from their nests. We have a pair of lorikeets, magpies, Australian ravens, two Bush-turkeys that haven't brought their babies to show us yet, so they must still be nesting, and these two lovely fledgling kookaburras. 

They are sitting in one of the gum trees, we have lots of spotted gums, watching for mum and dad to come back with dinner! 

The Bush Turkeys that visit as a pair

Did you take part in Bird Count last year?
This year, the Aussie Backyard Bird Count will be back, bigger and better than ever. With more than a million birds counted last year, how many will we see in 2016? It’s all happening during Bird Week, 17–23 October. Let’s make every bird count!  

Discover the Aussie Backyard Bird Count app!
A 'how to' guide for using the Aussie Backyard Bird Count app.
The app is currently available on: Iphone  Android 

We just sat on our verandah this week and took some of the birds that visit our yard to inspire you - clearly we'll be adding these to this year's Aussie Bird Count!

If you'd like some more inspiration visit Issue 234, 2015: Australia's First Bird Counts - A 115 Year Legacy

A Tribute To The Amazing Birds Of Chiltern Track NSW – Part 3

by BIBY TV: Published on 28 Sep 2016
These photos were taken in August and September 2016 on the Chiltern Track, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, NSW.

List of birds shown:
1. Eastern Yellow Robin 2. Silvereye (Tasmanian race)  3. Bar-shouldered Dove 4. Variegated Fairy-wren (male)  5. Spotted Pardalote (male)
6. Spotted Pardalote (female) 7. Superb Fairy-wren (male) – on car parked next to Chiltern Track entrance on Chiltern Road. He was reacting to his image in the rear-vision mirror. 8. Silvereye (Tasmanian race)
9. Eastern Spinebill 10. Brown-headed Honeyeater 11. Spotted Pardalote (male) 12. Red-browed Finch 13. Yellow-tufted Honeyeater 14. Fuscous Honeyeater 15. Striated Pardalote 16. Rainbow Lorikeet – on Flame Tree on roadside near Chiltern Track. 17. Eastern Spinebill 18. Yellow-tufted Honeyeater 19. Striated Pardalote 20. Eastern Yellow Robin 21. Little Wattlebird 22. Red-browed Finch 23. Eastern Yellow Robin 24. Superb Fairy-wren (male) – on car parked next to Chiltern Track entrance on Chiltern Road. He was reacting to his image in the rear-vision mirror.
25. Eastern Yellow Robin 26. New Holland Honeyeater 27. Little Wattlebird 28. White-cheeked Honeyeater 29. Brown-headed Honeyeater
30. Lewin’s Honeyeater 31. Golden Whistler (female) 32. Brown-headed Honeyeater 33. Spotted Pardalote (male) 34. Silvereye (Tasmanian race) 
35. Variegated Fairy-wren (male) 36. Little Wattlebird 37. Superb Fairy-wren (male) – on car parked next to Chiltern Track entrance on Chiltern Road. He was reacting to his image in the rear-vision mirror. 38. Golden Whistler (female) 39. Lewin’s Honeyeater  40. White-browed Scrubwren
41. Brown Thornbill 42. Eastern Yellow Robin 43. New Holland Honeyeater 44. Spotted Pardalote (female) 45. Little Wattlebird – on Flame Tree on roadside near Chiltern Track. 46. Variegated Fairy-wren (female) 47. Silvereye (Tasmanian race) 48. Red-browed Finch
49. Spotted Pardalote (male) 50. Eastern Whipbird (juvenile) 51. Spotted Pardalote (male) 52. Eastern Yellow Robin 53. Bar-shouldered Dove
54. Brown Thornbill 55. New Holland Honeyeater 56. Spotted Pardalote (male) 57. Eastern Yellow Robin 58. Superb Fairy-wren (male) 59. Fuscous Honeyeater 60. Spotted Pardalote (male) 61. Bar-shouldered Dove 62. Little Wattlebird 63. Wedge-tailed Eagle 64. Square-tailed Kite
65. Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

Also seen/heard in August/September:
Yellow-faced Honeyeater, White-eared Honeyeater, Grey Fantail, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Noisy Friarbird, Red Wattlebird, Welcome Swallow, White-naped Honeyeater, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Galah, Grey Shrike-thrush, Pied Currawong, Australian Raven, Australian Magpie, Laughing Kookaburra, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Olive-backed Oriole, Pacific Black Duck (on a small watercourse in swampy heath-land), Rufous Whistler (almost certain), and Noisy Miner and Australian Brush Turkey (both in garden near Chiltern Track entrance on Chiltern Road).

Photography and video production - Darren Broughton
Shot selection, editing and arrangement - Thalia Broughton
Music - "Don’t You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds

Australia Post Encourages Students To Learn About Endangered Wildlife

$1 Endangered Wildlife, Southern Corroboree Frog stamp.

Australia Post Encourages Students To Learn About Endangered Wildlife

26th September 2016
Australia Post is calling young Australians to get on board Stamp Collecting Month this October to learn more about some of the world's most endangered animals through the endangered wildlife stamp issue.

Encouraging children to learn more about animal conservation, the Endangered Wildlife stamp issue features four native and three exotic endangered animals currently part of local zoo or Government conservation programs.

With Australia losing nearly 30 mammal species in the last 200 years, Taronga Zoo Executive Director, Cameron Kerr said the country has one of the highest extinction rates in the world.

"Fortunately, organisations like Taronga Zoo are working to help species like the Southern Corroboree Frog that are in serious trouble. Through joint breeding programs, we're already releasing these critically endangered amphibians to Kosciusko National Park. With less than 50 of these animals left in the wild our timing is crucial.

"The impressive stamp representing this striking frog helps commemorate Taronga Zoo's centenary, but also creates awareness for their plight in the wild and we are proud to have it featured for Stamp Collecting Month," said Mr Kerr.

"This year's Stamp Collecting Month is a great opportunity for students, teachers and parents to explore and delve deeper into some of our endangered species, the causes of endangerment and extinction and what we can do to help protect them," he said.

With the issue's focus on animals at risk of extinction, Australia Post Philatelic Manager, Michael Zsolt, said, "We are pleased to recognise the efforts being made to conserve endangered species and to get behind such an important cause".

The stamps feature the Snow Leopard, Asian Elephant, Western Lowland Gorilla, Western Swamp Tortoise, Orange-bellied Parrot, Northern Quoll and the Southern Corroboree Frog.

$1 Endangered Wildlife, Asian Elephant stamp.  

50c Endangered Wildlife, Northern Quoll stamp.

Stamp Collecting Month is also supported by a dedicated online education resource for teachers, parents and students. The website includes information and facts on each animal featured, as well as lesson ideas and activities, stamp images and much more.
For more information on Stamp Collecting Month and this year's Endangered Wildlife issue, including educational activities, visit the

The Endangered Wildlife stamps and associated products are available from 20 September 2016 at participating Post Offices, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online at while stocks last.
$1 Endangered Wildlife, Western Swamp Tortoise stamp. 
50c Endangered Wildlife, Orange-bellied Parrot stamp.

Taronga ‘Stands Up For The Wild’ With 100 Year Birthday Parade

School children celebrate 100 years of Taronga Zoo - photo by Rick Stevens
A parade of giant animal light sculptures will make their way down Macquarie Street, Saturday 15 October, Taronga Zoo announced today,marking100 years since the Zoo officially opened in Mosman in 1916.

Starting at Hyde Park at 8pm, the amazing light sculptures will be escorted by a cast of school children who will dance, sing and light up the streets for the wild to the Sydney Opera House, where a live performance will take place. 

The giant animal light sculptures represent Taronga’s ten year commitment to the conservation and preservation of 10 Centenary Species, iconic and beloved animals which include the Asian Elephant, Platypus, and Sumatran Tiger. 

The fabulous light parade will recreate the historic moment 100 years ago, when Jessie the elephant made her way from the original Zoological site in Moore Park, through the CBD, down Macquarie Street to a spot on the foreshore directly where the Harbour Bridge and Opera House would rise years later. Jessie boarded a barge, to be transported across the harbour as did hippos, primates, reptiles, and many other animal species Taronga still cares for today.

Taronga is encouraging Australians to ‘Stand Up #FortheWild’ by coming along to cheer the parade or by donating to its Centenary Commitment to turn around the plight of these 10 critical species.

Creative Director, Ignatius Jones, said: “This will be the most amazing parade that Sydney has seen in a 100 years! An absolute carnival of lights, dancing and music!”

“A great night out for friends and families, the Taronga Birthday Parade will spread the word that we need to stand up for these amazing animals and help Taronga ensure their future.” 

Taronga Zoo’s CEO, Cameron Kerr said: “We’re inviting everyone in Sydney to ‘Stand Up for the Wild’ by coming along to what will be an amazing spectacle and help support the work being done for these 10 vital species.”

“We’re asking Australians not just in Sydney but across the country help us raise $1 million dollars to kick-start a lifetime conservation commitment.”

The parade is the exciting culmination for Taronga’s Centenary program, presented by long-term supporter ANZ, which has also included Vivid Sydney at Taronga, EID at Taronga, inviting guests to come in for $1 on their birthday, creating a stunning collection of past and present Taronga memories at #IGrewupWithTaronga, hosting an amazing birthday party on the 7 October Centenary anniversary and the commencing of amazing field-work to conserve the 10 Centenary species. 

Donate $10 to help Taronga save 10 endangered species from extinction. Visit:

What: Taronga Birthday Parade
Cost:  FREE
When: Saturday 15 October 2016 at 8pm 
Where:Starting from Hyde Park North and continuing along Macquarie Street to the Sydney Opera House grand finale performance

Disclaimer: These articles are not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Pittwater Online News or its staff.